Aging Pets Drive New Product Trends: Packaged Facts  3/10/2016

With pets living longer and the obesity epidemic among the pet population growing, the need for products addressing these issues has risen, according to Senior, Weight Management and Special Needs Pet Products in the U.S., 2nd Edition, a recent report by market research publisher Packaged Facts.

“As today’s pets live longer and struggle increasingly with health issues related to age and being overweight, there remains solid potential for products that address these and related conditions,” says David Sprinkle, research director Packaged Facts.

In the report, Packaged Facts estimates that U.S. retail sales of senior, weight management and special needs (SWM) pet products approached $4 billion in 2015, up 21% over 2010 sales, closely tracking the sales growth of pet products overall. Accounting for 83% of 2015 sales, food is the largest category by a sizeable margin. SWM devices and supplies account for 12% of the market, and supplements comprise the remaining 5%. Looking ahead, retail sales of SWM pet products are projected to approach $5 billion in 2020, up roughly 20% over 2015 sales.

Despite the present and projected growth, part of the challenge with marketing SWM products is simply convincing pet owners of the benefits, according to Packaged Facts. Given the ubiquity of the pet wellness trend in the overall market, even in value channels, it may seem surprising that pet owners aren’t overwhelmingly keen on products specifically designed for senior and overweight pets.

Ironically, the larger trend toward pet wellness may be partly to blame in the sense that many consumers are now embracing a holistic approach to wellness that encompasses natural ingredients, whole foods, high protein/low carb, and even raw diets. Such products often appeal to the value-driven consumer by meeting multiple needs, thereby posing fierce competition to any product that may seem more narrowly targeted. Exacerbating this trend is the tendency among purchasers of senior and weight management foods to be watching their pennies, as evidenced by Packaged Facts survey data indicating above average likelihood among pet owners to rely on coupons and, in the case of dog owners, to demonstrate a preference for pet foods that are significantly lower priced.

The success of any product hinges on a compelling value proposition, and this is all the more so for higher-priced fare. Progress in the SWM market will therefore depend on the ability of marketers, retailers, and healthcare providers to make the case that the health benefits of SWM products outweigh any price reservations they may hold. The new pet food labeling requirements for calorie content statements and other more detailed information appear to be a big step in the right direction, said Packaged Facts. At the same time, as pet owners gravitate towards more premium and superpremium products in general, it is logical that the rising tide will also lift the fortunes of condition-specific pet foods including senior and weight management, especially those varieties dovetailing with trends like natural, limited ingredient, grain-free and so on.

Senior, Weight Management and Special Needs Pet Products in the U.S., 2nd Edition analyzes the market for pet products targeting senior, overweight/obese and special needs dogs and cats. The report covers products specifically marketed along senior or weight management lines, as well as products that may be marketed to a more general audience but are especially useful for senior or overweight pets, such as joint supplements and pet mobility devices. 

Rockville, Md.-based Packaged Facts, a division of, publishes market intelligence on a wide range of consumer market topics, including consumer demographics and shopper insights, consumer financial products and services, consumer goods and retailing, consumer packaged goods, and pet products and services. 

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Joseph Tarnowski

VP Content

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